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Marriage—A Gift From a Loving God

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"Marriage is a gift from God to us, the quality of our marriage can be our gift from us to Him"

“A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”—ECCLESIASTES 4:12.

DO YOU enjoy going to weddings? Many do, for such occasions can be very pleasant. You see the couple looking their best. Better yet, there is such joy on their faces! On this day, they are all smiles, and their future seems full of hope and promise.

Still, it must be admitted that in many respects the institution of marriage is in a shambles today. While we hope for the best for newly married couples, we may at times wonder: ‘Will this marriage be happy? Will it last?’ The answers to those questions will depend on whether husband and wife trust and apply God’s counsel on marriage. (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) They need to do so in order to remain in God’s love. Let us now focus on the Bible’s answer to these four questions: Why get married? If you marry, whom should you choose for a mate? How can you prepare for marriage? And what can help a couple to remain happily married?


Some believe that marriage is essential to happiness—that you cannot find fulfillment or joy in life unless  you find a mate. That is simply untrue! Jesus, a single man, spoke of singleness as a gift and urged those who could to make room for it. (Matthew 19:11, 12) The apostle Paul too discussed the advantages of singleness. (1 Corinthians 7:32-38) Neither Jesus nor Paul made a rule in this regard; in fact, forbidding marriage is listed among “teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3) Still, singleness has much to offer those who want to serve Jehovah without distraction. It would not be wise, then, to marry for trivial reasons, such as peer pressure.

On the other hand, are there valid reasons to get married? Yes. Marriage too is a gift from our loving God. (Read Genesis 2:18.) So it has certain advantages and the potential for bringing blessings. For instance, a good marriage is the best foundation for family life. Children need a stable environment with parents to raise them, providing love, discipline, and guidance. (Psalm 127:3; Ephesians 6:1-4) However, child-rearing is not the only reason for marriage.

Consider the theme scripture for this chapter along with its context: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up? Moreover, if two lie down together, they will stay warm, but how can just one keep warm? And someone may overpower one alone, but two together can take a stand against him. And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”—Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

Primarily, this passage is about the value of friendship. Marriage, of course, involves the closest of friendships. As this scripture shows, such a union can provide assistance, comfort, and protection. A marriage is especially strong if it is more than a bond between just two people. A twofold cord, as this verse implies, might be torn apart. But three strands woven or braided together would be much harder to tear apart. When pleasing Jehovah is the prime concern of both husband and wife, their marriage is like that threefold cord. Jehovah is a real part of the marriage, so the union is very strong indeed.

Marriage is also the only context in which sexual desires can be properly satisfied. In this setting, the sexual union is rightly viewed as a source of delight. (Proverbs 5:18) When a single person is past what the Bible calls “the bloom of youth”—that time when sexual urges first become strong—he or she may still struggle with sexual desires. Uncontrolled, such desires could lead to unclean or improper conduct. Paul was inspired to pen this counsel for single people: “If they do not have self-control, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be inflamed with passion.”—1 Corinthians 7:9, 36; James 1:15.

Whatever reasons motivate a person to marry, it is good to be realistic. As Paul put it, those who marry “will have tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) Married people face challenges that single people will not face. If you choose to marry, though, how can you minimize the challenges and maximize the blessings? One way is to choose a mate wisely.


Paul was inspired to write down a vital principle that should be applied when choosing a marriage mate: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) His illustration was based on a fact of agricultural life. If two animals that differ greatly in size or strength are yoked together, both will suffer. Similarly, yoked together by marriage, a believer and an unbeliever will undoubtedly face friction and strains. If one mate wants to remain in Jehovah’s love and the other cares little or nothing about that, their priorities in life will not match, and much discomfort is likely to result. Paul thus urged Christians to marry “only in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 7:39.

In some cases, single Christians have come to the conclusion that an uneven yoking would be better than the loneliness they currently feel. Some decide to ignore Bible counsel, and they marry a person who does not serve Jehovah. Again and again, the outcome is sad. Such ones find themselves married to a person with whom they cannot share the most important things in life. The loneliness that results may be far greater than any that they experienced before they married. Happily, there are many thousands of single Christians who trust in and loyally adhere to divine counsel in this regard. (Read Psalm 32:8.) Though hoping to marry someday, they remain single until they find a mate among those who worship Jehovah God.

11 Of course, not every servant of Jehovah is  automatically a suitable marriage mate. If you are considering marriage, look for someone whose personality, spiritual goals, and love for God are compatible with your own. The faithful and discreet slave has provided much food for thought on this subject, and you would do well to consider such Scriptural counsel prayerfully, letting it guide you in making this important decision. *—Read Psalm 119:105.

In many lands, it is customary for parents to choose a mate for their child. It is widely agreed in those cultures that parents have the greater wisdom and experience needed to make such an important choice. Arranged marriages often work out well, as they did in Bible times. The example of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac is instructive to parents who may be in a similar position today. Money and social standing were not Abraham’s concern. Rather, he went to great lengths to find a wife for Isaac among people who worshipped Jehovah. *—Genesis 24:3, 67.


Principle: “The two will be one flesh.”—Matthew 19:5.

Some questions to ask yourself

Why is it important to be “past the bloom of youth” before marrying?—1 Corinthians 7:36; 13:11; Matthew 19:4, 5.
Although I am old enough to marry, how can I benefit from staying single for a period of time?—1 Corinthians 7:32-34,37, 38.
If I choose to marry, why is it important that my prospective mate have a record of faithful service to Jehovah?—1 Corinthians 7:39.
How can the following scriptures help a sister to identify the qualities needed in a mate?—Psalm 119:97; 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
How could Proverbs 31:10-31 help a brother choose a marriage mate wisely?


If you are thinking seriously about marriage, you  would do well to ask yourself, ‘Am I really ready?’ The answer does not simply lie in your feelings about love, sex, companionship, or child rearing. Rather, there are specific goals that each prospective husband or wife should think about.

young man who seeks a wife should think carefully about this principle: “Prepare your outside work, and get everything ready in the field; then build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27) What is the point? In those days, if a man wanted to establish a family by getting married, he needed to ask himself, ‘Am I ready to care for and support a wife and any children who might come along?’ He had to work first, caring for his fields, or crops. The same principle applies today. A man who wants to marry needs to prepare for the responsibility. As long as he is physically able, he will have to work. God’s Word indicates that a man who does not care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of his family is worse than one without faith!—Read 1 Timothy 5:8.

A woman who decides to marry is likewise agreeing to shoulder a number of weighty responsibilities. The Bible praises some of the skills and qualities that a wife may need as she helps her husband and cares for her household. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Men and women who rush into marriage without preparing to take on the responsibilities involved are really being selfish, failing to think of what they can offer a potential mate. Most of all, though, those contemplating marriage need to be prepared spiritually.

Preparing for marriage involves meditating on the roles that God has assigned to husband and wife. A man  needs to know what it means to be the head of a Christian household. This role is not a license to act as a tyrant. Rather, he must imitate the manner in which Jesus exercises headship. (Ephesians 5:23) Likewise, a Christian woman needs to understand the dignified role of the wife. Will she be willing to submit to “the law of her husband”? (Romans 7:2) She is already under the law of Jehovah and of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) Her husband’s authority in the household represents another law. Can she be supportive and submissive when it comes to the authority of an imperfect man? If that prospect is not appealing, she does well to refrain from marrying.

Further, each mate needs to be ready to care for the special needs of the other. (Read Philippians 2:4.) Paul wrote: “Each one of you must love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” Under divine inspiration, Paul saw that the man has a special need to sense his wife’s deep respect for him. And the woman has a special need to feel loved by her husband.—Ephesians 5:21-33.

During courtship, many couples wisely arrange for a chaperone

Courtship, then, is not merely a time to have fun. It is a time for a man and a woman to learn how to deal properly with each other, to see whether marriage would be a wise choice. It is also a time to exercise self-control! The temptation to become physically intimate can be very strong—after all, the attraction is natural. However, those who truly love each other will avoid any acts that could harm a loved one spiritually. (1 Thessalonians 4:6) So if you are courting, exercise self-control; you can benefit from that quality throughout your life, whether you marry or not.


If a couple is to make their marriage last, they need to have the right view of commitment. In novels and movies, a marriage often provides the happy ending that people crave. In real life, though, marriage is not an ending; it is a beginning—the start of something that Jehovah designed to last. (Genesis 2:24) Sadly, that is not the common view in today’s world. In some cultures, people speak of marrying as “tying the knot.” They may not realize how aptly that illustration describes the common view of marriage. How so? While a good knot should hold fast as long as it is needed, another key requirement is that it can be tied and untied with ease.

Many today see marriage as temporary. They enter into it readily enough because they think that it will suit their needs, but they expect to be able to get out of it as soon as it seems to be challenging. Remember, though, the illustration that the Bible uses for a bond such as marriage—the cord. Cords or ropes made for sailing ships are designed to last, never to fray or unravel, even in the harshest storm. Likewise, marriage is designed to endure. Remember, Jesus said: “What God has yoked together, let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:6) If you marry, you need to have the same view of marriage. Does that kind of commitment turn marriage into a burden? No.

A husband and wife need to maintain the right view of each other. If each one strives to focus on the good  qualities and efforts of the other, the marriage will be a source of joy and refreshment. Is it unrealistic to have such a positive view of an imperfect mate? Jehovah is never unrealistic, yet we count on him to maintain a positive view of us. The psalmist asked: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” (Psalm 130:3) Husbands and wives need to have a similarly positive and forgiving view of each other.—Read Colossians 3:13.

Marriage can become a greater blessing as it endures over the years. The Bible shows us the marriage of Abraham and Sarah when they were an elderly couple. Their life was by no means free of hardships and challenges. Imagine what it was like for Sarah, a woman possibly in her 60’s, to leave her comfortable home in the prosperous city of Ur and take up dwelling in tents for the rest of her life. Yet, she submitted to her husband’s headship. A true complement and helper to Abraham, she respectfully helped to make his decisions work. And her subjection was not superficial. Even “to herself” she referred to her husband as her lord. (Genesis 18:12; 1 Peter 3:6) Her respect for Abraham came from the heart.

Of course, that does not mean that Abraham and Sarah always saw things the same way. She once made a suggestion that was “very displeasing” to Abraham. Still, at Jehovah’s direction, Abraham humbly listened to the voice of his wife, which turned out to be a blessing to the family. (Genesis 21:9-13) Husbands and wives today, even those married for decades, can learn much from this godly couple.

In the Christian congregation, there are many thousands of happy marriages—marriages in which the wife deeply respects her husband, the husband loves and honors his wife, and both work together to put the doing of Jehovah’s will first in all things. If you decide to marry, may you choose your mate wisely, prepare well for marriage, and work at a peaceful, loving marriage that brings honor to Jehovah God. In that case, your marriage will certainly help you to remain in God’s love.

Build a Strong and Happy Marriage

“Unless Jehovah builds the house, it is in vain that its builders work hard on it.”—PSALM 127:1a.


What challenges do married couples face?
How can a couple include Jehovah in their marriage?
How can husbands and wives apply the Golden Rule?

“IF YOU put forth sincere effort and show that you want your marriage to succeed, you can enjoy Jehovah’s blessing,” says a husband who has been happily married for 38 years. Yes, husbands and wives have the potential for enjoying happy times as well as for supporting each other through difficult times.—Proverbs 18:22.

It is not unusual, however, for married couples to experience some “tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) Why? Simply dealing with everyday troubles can strain marital ties. Hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and miscommunications caused by the imperfect tongue can be a challenge in the best of marriages. (James 3:2, 5, 8) Many couples also have difficulty in coping with demanding employment while caring for children. Stress and exhaustion make it difficult for some couples to take the time they need in order to strengthen their marriage. Their love and respect for each other may be eroded by financial difficulties, health problems, or other hardships. Furthermore, the foundation of what seemed to be a strong marriage can be undermined by “the works of  the flesh,” such as sexual immorality, brazen conduct, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, and dissensions.—Galatians 5:19-21.

To compound matters, “the last days” are characterized by selfish, ungodly attitudes that are toxic to a marriage. (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Finally, marriages have to withstand the determined onslaughts of a malicious enemy. The apostle Peter warns us: “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12.

A husband in Japan admits: “I was under a lot of stress financially. And because I didn’t really communicate with my wife, she also came under a lot of pressure. In addition, she recently experienced serious health problems. At times, this stress caused us to clash.” Some challenges in a marriage are inevitable, but they are not insurmountable. With Jehovah’s help, couples can enjoy a solid and happy union. (Read Psalm 127:1.) Let us discuss five of the spiritual building blocks for a strong and lasting marriage. Then we will consider how these building blocks can be cemented by love.

The cornerstone of a secure marriage is loyalty and submission to the One who instituted
marriage. (Read Ecclesiastes 4:12.) Husbands and wives can include Jehovah in their marriage by following his loving guidance. The Bible says about God’s ancient people: “Your own ears will hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it,’ in case you should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20, 21) Today, couples can “hear” Jehovah’s word by reading God’s Word together. (Psalm 1:1-3) They can further strengthen their marriage by means of a Family Worship program that is both enjoyable and spiritually refreshing. Daily prayer together is also invaluable in building a marriage that can withstand the onslaughts of Satan’s world.


By doing spiritual things together, couples are bonded to God and to each other in a close and happy union 

“Whenever our joy has been clouded by personal difficulties or misunderstandings,” says Gerhard in Germany, “the counsel from God’s Word has helped us to develop patience and practice forgiveness. These qualities are indispensable in a successful marriage.” When couples work hard to keep God in their marriage by engaging in spiritual activities together, they are bonded to God and to each other in a close and happy union.


How a husband exercises his headship can do much to build a strong and happy marriage. The Bible states: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) The context of that statement tells husbands how they should exercise their headship—in the same way that Christ exercises his authority over man. Jesus was never tyrannical or harsh but was always loving, kind, reasonable, mild-tempered, and lowly in heart.—Matthew 11:28-30.

Christian husbands do not need to demand repeatedly that their wives show them respect. Rather, they “continue dwelling with them according to knowledge [showing them consideration; understanding them].” They “assign them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” (1 Peter 3:7) In public and in private, husbands show by their respectful words and compassionate actions that their wives are precious to them. (Proverbs 31:28) Such loving headship wins a wife’s love and respect and brings God’s blessing on the marriage.


Unselfish, principled love for Jehovah helps all of us to humble ourselves under his mighty hand. (1 Peter 5:6) One important way that a submissive wife shows respect for Jehovah’s authority is by being cooperative and supportive within the family circle. The Bible says: “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18) Realistically, not all of a husband’s decisions will be to his wife’s liking. Yet, if his decisions do not conflict with God’s laws, a submissive wife is willing to yield.—1 Peter 3:1.

A wife has an honorable place as her husband’s “partner.” (Malachi 2:14) She provides valuable input concerning family decisions by respectfully expressing her thoughts and feelings yet remaining submissive. A wise husband will listen carefully to his wife’s expressions. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Loving submission, in turn, promotes joy, peace, and harmony within the family, and gives husbands and wives the satisfaction  that comes from knowing that they are pleasing God.—Ephesians 5:22.


One of the crucial building blocks of an enduring marriage is forgiveness. The marital union is strengthened when husbands and wives “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” (Colossians 3:13) On the other hand, the marriage relationship is undermined when a couple keep a mental record of old grudges and often use them as ammunition for fresh attacks. Just as cracks can weaken a building, grievances and resentment can develop in our heart, making it increasingly difficult to be forgiving. By contrast, strong marriage bonds are forged when husband and wife treat each other in a forgiving way, as Jehovah treats them.—Micah 7:18, 19.

True love “does not keep account of wrongs.” In fact, “love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5; read 1 Peter 4:8.) In other words, love does not put a limit on the number of sins that we can forgive. When the apostle Peter asked how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus replied: “Up to 77 times.” (Matthew 18:21, 22) He was showing that there is virtually no limit to the number of times a Christian should forgive others.—Proverbs 10:12

“If a couple do not want to be forgiving,” says Annette, “resentment and mistrust grow, and that is poison to a marriage. Being forgiving strengthens the bonds of marriage and draws you closer together.” To counteract a tendency to be unforgiving, work on having a thankful and appreciative disposition. Make a practice of giving your spouse sincere commendation. (Colossians 3:15) Experience the peace of mind, unity, and divine blessings that come to those who have a forgiving disposition.—Romans 14:19.


No doubt you like to be treated with dignity and respect. You appreciate it when your thoughts are acknowledged and your feelings are taken into account. But have you ever heard someone say, “I will give him a taste of his own medicine”? While such a reaction might at times be understandable, the Bible tells us: “Do not say: ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me.’” (Proverbs 24:29) In fact, Jesus recommended a more positive way of handling difficult situations. This rule of conduct is so well-known that it is often called the Golden Rule: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” (Luke 6:31) Jesus meant that we should treat people the way we would like to be treated and not repay unkindness with unkindness. In marriage, it means that we need to put into the relationship what we hope to get out of it.

Married people strengthen their  relationship when they are sensitive to their mate’s feelings. “We have tried to put the Golden Rule into practice,” says a husband in South Africa. “True, there are times when we’re upset, but we have worked hard to treat each other the way we would like to be treated—with respect and dignity.”

Do not expose your mate’s weaknesses or harp on his idiosyncrasies—not even jokingly. Remember that marriage is not a competition to find out who is stronger, who can shout louder, or who can think of the most cutting remark. True, we all have flaws, and sometimes we upset others. But there is never a justifiable reason for either a husband or a wife to use sarcastic and demeaning speech, or worse, to shove or hit each other.—Read Proverbs 17:27; 31:26.

Even though in some cultures men who bully or hit their wives are viewed as manly, the Bible states: “The one slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and the one controlling his temper than one conquering a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) It takes great moral strength to imitate the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, and to control one’s spirit. A man who verbally or physically abuses his wife is anything but manly, and he will lose his relationship with Jehovah. The psalmist David, who himself was a strong and courageous man, said: “Be agitated, but do not sin. Have your say in your heart, upon your bed, and keep silent.”—Psalm 4:4.


Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is the most important quality in a marriage. “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience. But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:12, 14) Self-sacrificing, Christlike love is the mortar that binds the building blocks of a sturdy marital union. It makes the marriage unbreakable in the face of irritating personality flaws, daunting health challenges, distressing financial crises, and challenging in-law issues.

True, it takes loving devotion, loyal commitment, and earnest effort to make a marriage succeed. Rather than abandoning the marriage when difficulties arise, marriage partners should be determined to make their relationship thrive—not just survive. Christian couples who are devoted to Jehovah and to each other are motivated by their love for God and for each other to resolve their difficulties, for “love never fails.”—1 Corinthians 13:8; Matthew 19:5, 6; Hebrews 13:4.

Building a strong and happy marriage is particularly challenging in the “critical times” in which we live. (2 Timothy 3:1) But with Jehovah’s help, it is possible. Still, couples also have to contend with the world’s rampant moral decay. The following article will consider what husbands and wives can do to fortify the spiritual defenses of their marriage.




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